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|We can't all be rattlesnakes|
Author: Jennings, Patrick
When Crusher the snake is captured, her only thought is to escape but as time goes by and she befriends the other inmates of the "zoo," she realizes that freedom also means leaving companions behind.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 3.90
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 129046
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.50
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 46410
Common Core Standards
Grade 3 → Reading → RL Literature → 3.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 3 → Reading → RL Literature → 3.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 3 → Reading → RL Literature → 3.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Kirkus Reviews (11/15/08)
School Library Journal (02/01/09)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (02/09)
The Hornbook (03/09)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/15/2009 When a sweaty boy named Gunnar makes an unsuccessful grab for a gopher snake, the reptile (soon to be called Crusher) confesses, “Humans give me the creeps. They are so slimy.” Unfortunately, Gunnar captures Crusher and places her in a terrarium in his bedroom. The captive snake spends her days observing Gunnar’s sad life, communicating telepathically with other animals (notably a lizard and a tortoise) held captive in the room and plotting her escape. Along the way she develops previously foreign emotions, such as sympathy, compassion, and maybe even love. Honest in its portrayal of a thoughtless and apparently heartless child who is largely ignored and undisciplined by his parents, the first-person narrative contains some sad and even grim scenes, yet there’s a good deal of humor in the book as well. The snake makes an entertaining (if understandably snarky) narrator, whose point of view gives the story a distinctive slant and makes its conclusion fitting as well as surprising. - Copyright 2009 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2009 In this fictional snakey diatribe against idiot pet owners, a female gopher snake (dubbed “Crusher” by her captor), captured in the wild by an irritating schoolboy named Gunnar, plots her escape. Not only does Gunnar mistakenly think that the snake is male, he also knows little about the conditions she needs to survive, resulting in some unhappy moments for the snake, and also for the live mouse he dumps into her cage. Rather than eat the terrified mouse (it seems wrong to eat something she didn’t catch herself), Crusher eventually strikes up a friendship with “Breakfast,” as well as with Gunnar’s other unfortunate pets, including pessimistic tortoise Speedy, and Rex, a misnamed female lizard. Gunnar’s ineptness as a pet owner is matched by his parents’ ineptness as parents; they let their son play seemingly endless rounds of violent video games, pay scant attention to the boy, and rarely follow through with consequences for bad behavior. Crusher is a reluctant witness to all of this, and, as a snake, she provides a unique outsider’s point of view to the actions of the boy and his family. The message of responsible pet ownership (and parenting) is a worthy one, but Jennings carries it overboard here, even including a right-thinking, pet-savvy friend who exists for no other reason than to be a foil for Gunnar’s stupidity. Crusher’s narration of her experiences in the human world is definitely entertaining, but it is also somewhat marred by Jennings’ awkward attempts to balance realism and personification (“I laid my chin down in the dirt of my cell, closed my eyes, and wished I had hands to hold my aching, confused head”). Still, readers will root for Crusher to succeed in her escape plan, and her story provides kids, and parents, with plenty of food for thought. JH - Copyright 2009 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.